The Bipolar Writer Podcast is new, with just a few episodes under my belt, but I am always looking for new people within the mental illness community to share their stories. It can be anonymous, with a pseudonym that you use or your real name. You can promote your work if it is blogs, mental illness/mental health podcasts and topics, your books, and really anything you want, but the central part will be your mental illness story.
I will record the Zoom interviews and use Anchor.fm to put the podcast on different platforms like Spotify and iTunes. The only thing that will go live will be the audio file, and while I save my interviews, it will be on my cloud. The podcast is all about exploring the stories of depression, self-harm, anxiety, suicide, mental health issues today, mental illness stories, and everything in between. I would love for you to be one of the people that began on the ground floor of The Bipolar Writer Podcast. Thank you for your time, and you can use the contact page or email me directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also leave a comment below.
I wanted to share this post and my latest episode of The Bipolar Writer Podcast. I will let the episode speak for itself, but I am dealing with a dark part of my life. I hope you listen to the words I have said today and know I am in a safe place.
Fair warning, this will be a different approach than I have ever taken in the time since this blog became a reality. My approach to suicide as it has been in the past changed in October. Suicide is a challenging subject to talk about, and if you are not ready for what I will write here, you may want to stop reading any further. There is nothing wrong or right with suicide. It just is something that happens. I told you it would be different.
The last thing I wanted or needed when I had a suicide plan in place was for other people to talk me out of it. I was in a dark place in October. No one in that amount of pain that comes face to face with suicide, especially when they thought that part of their life was over, wants to hear that things will “be okay.” Or worse, have people tell you what to feel at that moment and the very worst that you need to be committed. I have been in those places, and they fail to help. It frustrates that person, and if they have the willpower to reach out, it took me almost two days for me, then that is okay. The last thing someone might need is a trip to the psychiatric ward (I will explain this more in another post.) Perhaps all that person needs is to be heard. Sure psychiatric ward visits are necessary, but I am going to say something radical. They do not actually help anyone!
I have been in psychiatric wards plenty in my life, and they medicate you. Then if your “stable,” whatever the hell that even means, then they release you. In 2007 I was in for a week and a half around Thanksgiving, and before I knew it, I was back in the same place again by New Years’ Eve 2008. A handful of weeks and nothing got better. I was suicidal. I wanted to not be a part of this world and be honest when we try to stop people from suicide, does it actually work? Think about it, it never did in my case, and while I count myself lucky to be a survivor, no one could have stopped me anyway. Something I experienced in the same scenario was a game-changer. It was called a safety plan, and it meant that I HAD TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.
This will sound harsh, and I will preface it with this, I failed for years to take responsibility for my suicide attempts. It is your choice, and if you make that decision and live, you have to live with that responsibility. Taking responsibility is not about blaming the good or the bad that is going on in life or the good or bad of the suicide itself. Instead, taking responsibility is allowing yourself to be okay with that decision. As a result, if you die, it was your choice, and I know so many people have lost loved ones to suicide, and I have empathy, but you can’t take that pain on forever for another person’s choice.
There are things that you can do, like reach out to places like the ASIST Suicide Prevention Training Program, LivingWorks, which you can visit here: https://www.livingworks.net/asist. You can learn how to guide someone the right way who is suicidal. I know I am working on getting this training, and I think everyone should have this training if I am honest (no, I am not getting paid to promote this.) But, I have experienced ASSIST firsthand with the safety plan and how the person trained in it approached me telling them I wanted to end my life. It changed my view of how suicide is treaded with the people trained in this program.
The most important thing, and I will keep harping on it because it is vital that the person who is suicidal has to take responsibility. A safety plan is excellent, but it is up to that person, in this case, back in October, it was me, to take the plan and implement it. Then I had to follow through or not, the other person will not know, and that is why I say it, the person who is suicidal is the person responsible for the fallout and everything that comes with it. That is how I feel, and it lessens the pressure that suicide is this super taboo thing.
I know some of you that read this will be mad at me and say, “how could you, of all people, James.” Perhaps some will look at someone they lost and understand that they were in the worst emotional pain imaginable. Deciding to end your life is the hardest thing a person can do, in my opinion, and so trust that you will be okay. It is not about YOU. It is about the person that is suicidal.
If you want to debate this or discuss it further, I am willing to Zoom with people or come on my Podcast and share your ideas. No one opinion is right or wrong.
The worst thing I have experienced when suicidal is someone taking on my pain to “try and make it better,” because at that moment, the now, none of your feelings actually matter. Imagine if you will experience the pain that the person feels and understand that they do not want to be fixed. Helping can be more effective, and if they reach out, try and not fix, just be there for that person. Perhaps it is controversial, and I will lose people following the blog, but if you’re suicidal and see this, know that I understand the pain and the choice. It is yours, but it becomes your responsibility. My next podcast will touch on this subject further.
I wanted to preface this poem with a “trigger warning,” this is a poem I wrote about suicide and depression recently, at this time I am NOT depressed or suicidal. But, this poem could trigger those feelings, so please read only if you are in a safe place. This free-verse poem was written during a poetry class in my last semester of my bachelor’s degree. It was my raw feelings when I was suicidal turned into a poem, please enjoy. I will link the other poem I posted recently.
It has been a long while. I am lost in my darkest contemplations. Sinking, unable to breathe. “I’m Depressed,” there I admit it. Teetering, on the edges of the blackest of thoughts— suicide. The darkness serves as my safe and unsafe place. “I am always here for you,” says the darkness— it is far away in the distance, but I hear its cry. Fearful of this darkness I let the thoughts of the end consume, afraid of what could happen. What might happen? What will happen? This winding road is leading me to the point of no return. The darkness laughs, and it moves closer in the distance.
My thoughts seek the out the painful memories, and the thoughts missile into my consciousness. Afraid. So Afraid of losing myself. My life is a mess, a black hole of endless despair. At night I lay my head down— wanting to cry, and so I cry myself to sleep. “Yes, my friend, give in. You belong here with those who lose themselves.
Wishing. Waiting. Wanting. This will be my last day, nevermore. Awake. Alone. Again. Another day lost in the darkness, it consumes my inner soul.
God hates me for what I have become, I hate myself so much that God— he has given up on me. Let’s face it, my hope evaporated long ago, it is a wonder that no one in my life wants anything to do with this lost soul. “I am here for you—always,” the darkness tells me. Can I fight this— is there something I can do? Probably not. My life is this mess. The Chaos. I created a monster inside me.
The darkness begins to consume, first my mind— and then my body. The darkness is just outside my door, it tells me this is the right thing. “Death is just mean to an end— the end of the infinite agony,” he tells me. “Give in, your life is not worth living. Give in, it will be painless.” Thoughts devour any shred of hope. The darkness wants to win. It just might.
I find myself on edge again— a familiar place, but this time it is different. I lay out the pills tidily in front of me. Counting. Thinking. “Yes,” exclaims the darkness, “this is who you are now.” How many sleeping pills does it take to sleep forever? This becomes routine— a nightly ritual that never changes. I tell myself every night, this is the night. “You must do this now,” the darkness hovers just beside me, “this is your destiny.” A flood of my past consumes my present. There is no future.
What does life mean anymore? I continue to perish in sinking into darkness. Forever. Darkness, my best friend— and worst enemy. Depression my frequent companion, never leaving me. My darkest depression. Will I give in?
I am doing something unorthodox today here on The Bipolar Writer. I hope that I have created a place where my fellow mental health sufferers can have a “safe place” to discuss their own issues. I often get emails from many who are seeking help or guidance or just want to talk about things. I want everyone who comes to this blog to know that if you are suicidal there is always someone here, I am always here to talk.
The unorthodox part is that today I am going to give my number to my followers if you are suicidal and you don’t want to reach out to help-lines (I have learned recently that they are not always great.) So, if you need to chat you can text me anytime. I will get back to you as soon as humanly possible. As a mental health advocate and someone who has been through the worst parts of mental illness alone, I want you to know I am a lifeline.
You are not alone. Suicide is not the answer. Again, I am always here to talk anytime.
I will admit that 2020 for The Bipolar Writer Collaborative blog has been nothing short of impressive. Writers, of the blog you were used to seeing from month to month, have either stopped writing here or in general. There have also been some new amazing writers, and I also want to point out those who stayed the course that I want to commend. You, my fellow writers, have made this blog go from an idea to a global viewing audience.
I miss and long for the days where writing on here daily was a reality for me, and I am making an effort to, when it feels right in the now, to share my experiences. An event or situation came up recently that has shed some light on how isolated I have been since March. It was my mother’s death that was the catalyst, but COVID-19 gave me a reason not to be a part of life. I was not living, and there was so much pain in my life. The worst part was that I was up to my old way of doing things, not feeling the feels. In short, I was suppressing all feeling and numbing the pain.
Back to the situation, I had a suicide plan in place, and I will not make excuses for the why, but say I was in unbearable pain, and my natural default was to turn to the one place I never thought I would go, again–suicide. Life is the way it is, and I talked myself out of the plan and reached out to someone that put me on a safety plan after a day. This was just last month, and so it is still raw, and the safety plan is still in place. I want to be more vulnerable here on my blog. Talking about suicide is something that I do but always about the past, but I have a new appreciation for how people like me can go that low. There is nothing wrong with suicide.
I know that will anger some people and especially those who have lost someone to suicide. I am not saying that suicide is right or wrong. That is the point. There is no wrong or right only suicide. Those who have never been there are the worst feeling in the world, but there is a moment of total spiritual awakening that nothing on this planet matters or is holding you here. It is something that I am not romanticizing, but it is a feeling of peace. When you are at your lowest, you need that, and I hope if you are feeling suicidal right now, you reach out to someone, do not do what I have always done, and hide the feelings.
For those on the other end of a suicidal person reaching out, we do not want people to fix us in my experience, for most listening and finding out if they are in a safe place more important. At the end of this post, I will again link Livingworks ASIST, go to the website and see what you can do for those who are suicidal if you are not.
Where did we go from reaching out to suicide? It is simple. I was not reaching out, and in this world, we need that human connection, especially the mental illness and mental health community. So, to my point, I want to once again meet the readers of this blog. Shoot an email, and that is great, but as I have learned with my business, no matter where you are in the world, this fantastic thing called Zoom connects people all over the world!
Seriously, let us connect in new ways. If you want to Zoom, please reach out. Create a group of people and invite me. Human connection in a COVID-19 mental illness world, especially in the winter, is paramount to us, making it through the tough times. Or as my life coach would say, there are no problems, just situations.
I want to end on a positive. Things are good. While the event is in the rearview, it is not over, but I am in a place where I can take on the pain, and my safety plan is what has been the reason to take responsibility. Ultimately, we have to do when we are suicidal, it is taking responsibilityfor our choices, not an easy task. I know. Stay safe out there in the world.
My Dark Passenger. I remember when I first named my depression, the dark passenger. It was sometime after my first psychiatric ward visit. It felt right, and to be honest, to have a name for it, that identity was a way to separate from the depression, but it was not really a separation in truth. I gave it a name, a place in my life, and it has always been my downfall. Sure, I have won battles since it became a part of me, but I have yet to win the war. It is always there, but does it have to be?
I have talked recently about detachment, and it is something that I am learning in life coaching. Recently, I was talking with someone, and they said something that stuck with me since. Creating a space for myself and detach the dark passenger. It was a challenge from this person, and I wondered if I could because as much as I have shed my life’s identities, this is a major one. I have no doubt the ability to detach is within me. I created the dark passenger, and letting go is something that I am getting better at over the last two months.
The dark passenger is an old friend. I have known this something for so long, and I know if I give it space, it may never leave me, and detach we can be separate. Less depressive episodes would be a significant step in a direction. It is not like I have not done it before, because I have gone long stretches, much like my depression cycles of the past, without depression. It has been more challenging this year, as things have been tough at times. I know I bring it up, but losing my mom was a significant event in my life, and while I have had tremendous strides in allowing space for my grieving process. There are milestones in the first year of a loss that I have to face. I would like to face these events detached from my dark passenger.
I want to challenge the very idea that depression is just something that is a part of me, which, since my diagnosis, all the professionals in my life its been the party line. That is just ludicrous because, while I can get depressed, I have seen first hand that it does not have to control me. I can allow it to me, and the next step is to detach and perhaps, for now, handcuff the dark passenger to me, so that when it wants to be a part of my life, I can tell it, NO. Try it. Tell you depression, no. I bet it will change everything.
I wanted to open this blog post with a disclaimer, I am not an expert in life coaching or any realm of psychology and therapy. I will always come from someone who shares his experience with mental illness and what comes along with what I am learning through life coaching and reading. So, what is detachment? Well, let us turn to Eckhart Tolle for a great quote.
When you are detached, you gain a higher vantage point from which to view the events in your life instead of being trapped inside them. – Eckhart Tolle
Over the past almost two weeks now, I have experienced complete attachment from events causing massive negative and depressive issues in my life. When I decided to detach from the event, seeing my life as Eckhart said, my life was surreal from a different vantage point. I was trapped inside these events so bad that self-doubts, self-loathing, negative thoughts, and dare I say some thoughts of giving up on life.
I will be vague about the event in the sense that I will share an event that was troubling me a lot because of the negative feelings I was associating with this person. It was my feelings that were driving a wedge between myself and this person. What did detaching myself from the situation do for me? It gave me a chance to shift my perspective. See the event from a different vantage point. I went into the event with an open mind. I noticed what was triggering me and bothering me was my ego trying to take hold of the situation. I chose positive intentions over negative ones. I detached entirely from the event and went in with just the facts. I came out with a better understanding that there is a different way of approaching an event with negative connotations or anytime that I feel the ego awakening (again, please read Eckhart Tolle to fully understand.)
Something my life coach told me–take consistent action. It makes so much sense now when I apply it to my life. Since my mom’s loss in December, I have felt like the punching bag of everyone that comes into my life, but in truth, I was playing the victim identity card. I allowed depression to be an excuse for my lack of energy or feeling like general crap. Depression is an emotion, but it can be a part of what is going on without controlling you. For the first time in forever, it seems my depression hit a ONE. I am not sure of the time or if this ever actually happened before.
What shifted? Everything. My approach. My attitude. Checking my ego at the door. Allowing detachment to give me a higher vantage point that I needed to look at the event. It is something that can and will be replicated in my life. I am tired of being the person that hides from the problems and events because I am here to tell you, they will continue to keep coming up in this life. So I leave you with hope. Change the narrative. Detach from the event. You will feel better for it. As always, stay strong in the fight.